Pascal Zuberbühler enjoyed a glittering career between the sticks, winning 51 caps for his native Switzerland and playing in two World Cups. He is now a Senior Football Expert for FIFA, and he sat down to tell us about what he has learnt from observing men's and women's international tournaments, what analysis tools can tell you about a goalkeeper's performance, and how the role of the goalkeeper has evolved.
Five talking points
Pascal's role at FIFA
As a Senior Football Expert, Pascal works closely with Chief of Global Football Development Arsène Wenger. His role encompasses all aspects of the game, but it is no surprise to learn that Zuberbühler has a particularly keen eye for what makes a good goalkeeper.
Observations as a FIFA expert
Pascal spent 20 years as a professional in Europe, but his new role has given him the chance to travel and see how football is played in other parts of the world. As he explains, the way teams develop goalkeepers differs markedly between regions. These differences are reflected in the role of the goalkeeping coaches, and the way in which they are integrated with the rest of the coaching staff.
Analysing the game as a goalkeeper
Here Zubi outlines the framework he uses to analyse the game and some of the key indicators he looks for, such as how involved goalkeepers are in build-up play and to what extent the goalkeeper follows their defensive line as they move up the pitch. Observing these characteristics can be especially enlightening, because they reveal whether a goalkeeper is integrated into the rest of their team.
The FIFA Football Language
The FIFA Football Language provides a huge amount of useful data to analyse a goalkeeper's performance. Pascal stress that the goalkeeper's role is about more than 'just' stopping shots, and the Football Language gives him the tools to assess how comfortable they are with the ball at their feet, whether they defend the area beyond their penalty box, and other important factors.
The archetypal modern goalkeeper
Pascal is keen to emphasise that goalkeepers are still goalkeepers – their primary role is still to stop shots. Nevertheless, modern goalkeepers are also expected to act as playmakers, and to pick the right passes at the right times. As Pascal explains, this development is especially evident when you watch players like Thibault Courtois and Ederson.